("Open America"). The Court finds that the Defendant's Motion to Stay shall be denied.
The Freedom of Information Act allows agencies to have additional time to process records when the agency can show the existence of exceptional circumstances and that it is exercising due diligence in its efforts to process the records. 5 U.S.C. § 552 (a)(6)(C). The "exceptional circumstances" provision of the FOIA has been interpreted by this Circuit in Open America v. Watergate Special Prosecution Force, 178 U.S. App. D.C. 308, 547 F.2d 605 (D.C. Cir. 1976). In that case, the court held that an agency shows exceptional circumstances exist when an agency is flooded with an unanticipated number of requests that can not be timely processed, despite its efforts to exercise "due diligence" in fulfilling requests. Id. at 616.
In their Motion, the Defendant claims to have met this standard, chiefly, because they presently have a back-log of over 11,651 pending requests that can not be processed more quickly with existing resources. (Def.'s Mot. to Stay Proceedings at 4.)
Nevertheless, the Defendant's Motion to Stay shall be denied for two reasons. First, Open America is inapposite to the instant situation. In lobbying for the new wiretapping law, the FBI chose to only release a summary of the disputed documents. Consequently, these documents, unlike the Open America documents, have already been reviewed by the FBI and do not require a new "word-by-word, paragraph-by-paragraph review of the information," (Def.'s Mot. to Stay Proceedings at 5), as suggested by the Defendant.
Second, the Department of Justice ("DOJ") has established a procedure for expediting requests that the FBI has yet to contest. Under the DOJ standard FOIA requests may be processed expeditiously if: (1) the information requested is exceptionally news worthy; and (2) the information sought involves "questions about the government's integrity." (Memorandum from United States Dep't. of Justice, Office of Public Affairs (Feb. 3, 1994)). Consequently this new DOJ standard, which may or may not apply to this case, does not limit expedited processing to cases where the information is needed to prevent a threat to "life or personal safety, or substantial due process rights would be jeopardized by a failure to expedite," as argued by the Defendant. (Def.'s Mot. to Stay Proceedings at 9 (citing Gonzalez v. DEA, 2 GDS P 81,016, at 81,069 (D.D.C. 1980); Cleaver v. Kelley, 427 F. Supp. 80, 81 (D.D.C. 1976)). Based on the foregoing reasons, the Court rules that these proceedings shall not be stayed.
Accordingly, it is, by the Court this 5th day of October 1994,
ORDERED that Defendant's Motion to Stay Proceedings shall be DENIED; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that on or before 4:00 p.m. on November 1st, 1994, Defendant shall review the documents memorializing the "informal survey," and file said documents with the Court for an in camera review by the Court, or the Defendants shall file a Vaughn Index; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that the parties shall file Cross-Motions for Summary Judgement on or before 4:00 p.m. on November 4, 1994; they shall file their Oppositions on or before 4:00 p.m. on November 15, 1994; and they shall file their Replies, if any, on or before November 23, 1994.
CHARLES R. RICHEY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE